Page:Historical Catechism of American Unionism.pdf/75

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at the close of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. These craftsmen were highly skilled workers, employing hand tools, and hence, often termed handicraftsmen.

212. Are there any such workmen now?
Very few, if any. Most of the present day crafts are no more than sub-divisions of the old time trades. The mechanical tool displaces skill without dispensing with it so far as the production of commodities is concerned. That is to say that the individual workman does not require that versatility of skill in machine production which was indispensable to the handicraftsman. The machine changes the technique in industrial operation so that all-around skillfulness, while unnecessary to any workman, is still demanded of the working force. In order to reap the full advantages of machinery preference is given to workmen in the various processes who display ingenuity in machine attendance and develop a knack which operates a machine tool at its approximate capacity. The skill, formerly the possession of the mechanic which enabled him to perform several operations, is now distributed so that the skill required in each operation is the qualification of special workmen. Where the old time trademan's skill consisted of a series of knacks gained from long experience, the skill of the modern workman in machine industry may be confined to a knack in one operation gained by a comparatively short experience. Today we have many skilled workmen, but few craftsmen.
213. How would skill be defined?
That depends. . . If the skill of the old time craftsman is meant, the standard by which skill is determined might be defined thus: Skill:—That quality in workmanship which enables the workman to surpass the average untrained worker in all the processes necessary to transform the raw material into the finished product; intimate knowledge of, and a facility acquired by practice in the processes required for the production of a particular thing; that efficient versatility which we are accustomed to associate with the handicraftsman who served a long apprenticeship.